Fears of Crossbows Bringing Harm are Unfounded

Crossbow hunter in treestand

Every year or so it seems some state goes through the process of expanding the use of crossbows for deer hunting and then the circus begins with the elephants, clowns, gymnastics and high-wire tension.

Where does the latter come from? It comes from all the gnashing of teeth and wailing by “traditional” bowhunters who hate crossbows and believe they’re the evil spawn of the devil. They stamp their feet and pitch a hissy fit about how a crossbow isn’t a “real” bow, deer will perish by the thousands at the hands of crossbow hunters, poachers will eradicate more deer and by-gum, those horrible crossbows shouldn’t be allowed in the bow-only season.

Yowza, what a load of blunt tips and busted strings. These silly arguments emerge every single time there’s any inkling of crossbow use being expanded. I saw it firsthand in Alabama about eight or nine years ago. You’d have thought the world was ending. And since then I’ve read about it in other states from New York to the Midwest.

As the kids would say, Ohh. Emm. Gee. It’s not that big of a deal. It really is not.

Crossbows are fun to shoot and great for hunting.

Crossbows are fun to shoot and great for hunting.

The latest state with all this angst and turf warfare is Minnesota. Esteemed outdoor scribe Dennis Anderson related the info in this Minneapolis Star-Tribune report. The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association shot down a proposal by its Brainerd chapter that would have expanded crossbow opportunities for hunters.

“Those of our members in Grand Rapids Saturday who supported the crossbow idea looked at it as a way to get more people involved with hunting,” MDHA executive director Craig Engwall told Anderson in the report.

“Those who opposed it worried about a shift in the buck harvest, and that crossbow hunting might bring too many people into the archery season.”

Egads. I just can’t believe the narrow-minded and silly reasoning behind this kind of rejection. Bowhunters in many states, Minnesota included, have six to eight weeks of the deer season to themselves. No guns, some of them don’t allow crossbows, all just for the bowhunters. Some have long archery seasons with limited gun seasons, like in Kansas or Ohio.

And yet the bowhunters offer a cry and hue about how traditions and heritage will be harmed. I suspect some traditional bowhunters said the same in the 1960s when compound bows and aluminum arrows came forth. They complain about, like in the above quote, how “crossbow hunting might bring too many people into the archery season” yet gripe like old women about how hunting is being lost, about how kids today aren’t getting into the outdoors.

Hello? Roadblocks? You’re throwing up one right there yourself!

“Hey, we’d love to have you as a hunter! Yes, welcome to the fraternity. Hunters need more young people and folks who maybe hunted years ago and are getting back into it. Love it! Just use this specific weapon only during this time of year, though, m’kay? Crossbows? Why, no. You can’t use that now. You have to wait two months. Why? Well, because … uh, well … uh. Aw, y’know. You wouldn’t be a real hunter. Those things are just, ugh. C’mon, just use a bow, m’kay?”

Crossbow photoI heard all this crapola in Alabama years ago, and still hear it sometimes, when crossbows were permitted for the entire season. What I saw after that first season or two was fully expected, though: Some guys loved them, some thought they were OK and some sold their crossbows because it wasn’t their cup of tea. Our deer populations didn’t take a huge hit due to crossbows. Poaching cases didn’t increase wildly because of crossbows.

In short, those who liked them hunted with them and those who did not got over it. A few still whine and moan about crossbows being in “their bow season.” I think some of these folks would complain about not getting a million dollars if they were given a check for $999,999.99.

Crossbows have not decimated populations of deer. Poachers aren’t skulking around in the dark of night with crossbows in a vehicle like with guns. Crossbows aren’t something “only kids and cripples should use,” as I’ve seen written before on social media. Just like bows, crossbows have been around for hundreds of years, are efficient at 20 to 50 yards, help people enjoy the outdoors and kill deer or other game animals, and have a wide range of prices, models and such for male, female, young and old.

It’s high time all this silly crossbow discrimination comes to an end.

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